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Burst - Prey on Life (Relapse)

By: Kev Truong

Well this came out of nowhere! With this, their first full-length release, the previously unknown entity that is Burst have put out a record that is creative, diverse and at times genuinely awe-inspiring. Taking kudos from a number of disparate acts, they have forged a fairly unique, challenging and almost cryptic sound that is rare and undeniably satisfying to find amongst debutante bands. If this serves as just an introduction to the world of Burst, then the mind boggles as to what they’re capable of with experience and development under their belts.

With a sound nestled somewhere in that vast stretch of space between Burnt By The Sun, Opeth and even (in slight snatches) The Mars Volta, Prey on Life melds scarred-throat metalcore with cosmic ambience, idiosyncratic structuring, expressive melodies and top-shelf musicianship, all the while with a keen eye on the big picture context. As the album unravels we see Burst adopting a number of different guises, and it is the way these approaches come together to form the expansive whole that makes this the formidable piece of work that it is. Each song is consistently excellent, and each one highlights a different aspect of their eclectic style. They clearly carve each song with inexplicable care, and as a result they create soundscapes that would be the envy of most musicians in the same field.

‘Vortex’ captures the band’s melodic sensibilities in peak form, revolving around a catchy and instantly memorable guitar line. ‘Iris’ shows their intelligent aggression, its driving rhythms and caustic vocals accentuated by the sporadic splashes of acoustic guitar buried beneath. ‘Fourth Sun’ is an amazing instrumental collage, layers of dreamy melodies and tones moving in and out of the fore, creating a haze like a drug-induced euphoria. The production team earned their stripes on this track alone. And then there is the purely brilliant ‘Rain’, an understated, spiritually ambient piece fuelled by a pulsating bass line and coloured by its continually fluctuating guitar textures and melodies. Incredible.

The only complaint one can make about this album (although it’s not really a criticism per se) is the lack of any extended songwriting. Playing this sort of multi-faceted style just begs for that ten-minute-plus musical odyssey, but sadly we’re offered no such thing, with an average track length of around four-minutes remaining constant throughout. Despite this, Prey on Life is still an extraordinarily commanding album for a debut, and it’ll be remarkable to see where Burst goes to from here. In the meantime though, we have this to dazzle our minds, and if this doesn’t satisfy those with more demanding musical needs, then it’ll be hard to imagine what will.

9/10

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